by Max Brantley
The state Highway Commission yesterday signed off on County Judge Buddy Villines' plan to dress up a replacement Broadway Bridge with flags, painted walks, installations honoring veterans and a light display.
The URS Corporation, headed locally by former Central Arkansas Transit director, Keith Jones, did the design work for the additions to the bridge. The add-ons will cost $2 million and phased in as contributions are made to fund Villines plans for "America's Bridge." This money is in addition to the $20 million he's committed from county road tax money to make the main bridge a little more design-forward than the $58 million model proposed by the Highway and Transportation Department.
On the jump is Villines' description of the project. It accompanied a slide show for commissioners.
Bids to tear down the existing bridge and replace it are expected to be taken around the end of the year. That process could last two years.
The year 2016 will see the opening of the bridge that will replace the Broadway Bridge. We propose this new span over the Arkansas River be known as America’s Bridge and that the pedestrian/bicycle lane honor those who fought for freedom and worked for peace. This lane will be a walk and ride through history.
A timeline rises from the south end of the Walk of Honor and it travels the entire length of the bridge. Starting with the Declaration of Independence and Revolutionary War, this timeline shows the periods of both peace and war in our nation’s history with the pavement representing the times of peace being smooth and the subsequent times of war being dark and having an irregular course texture. Guidonstyle banners will mark times of war. Banners will show the wars name, beginning and end dates, and the number of combatants that were killed, wounded or missing specific to each conflict. This timeline will allow pedestrians to experience the complete history of our Country with emphasis on each generation’s contribution to include future generation’s contributions to freedom and peace as they
occur making the bridge an appropriate response that documents our past, present and future.
Three flags occur at the midspan between the two main arches of the bridge. The Arkansas State Flag flies from the west side of the bridge. On the east side adjacent to the Walk of Honor are two flags; the American Flag taller than all others will fly above the flag honoring those who are still considered as missing in action or prisoners of war. Located on either side of this flagpole Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s quote concerning our four freedoms, which are to be etched in the new glass panels replacing metal railings. All flags will be visible from both banks of the Arkansas River as well as motorists and pedestrians who will travel the bridge.
Where the pedestrian bridge on the north levee intersects the Walk of Honor is that portion of the timeline which will correspond with the opening of America’s bridge. Proceeding on the timeline back toward the south bank, you will experience our generation’s periods of both peace and war. Visitors will see the 50 commemorative bollards that honor each state of the union in the order of acceptance to the union. Potentially, each commemorative bollard will also have to illuminate the walkway. This will enable the Walk of Honor to be a testimony in both day and night times.
America’s Bridge is more than a bridge.
It is to be a continuing tribute to our Country and the sacrifices made so we and future generals can live in democracy dedicated to freedom, work for peace and never forgetting the sacrifices made by those who came before.
We present, America’s Bridge.